San Francisco was where I first learned to gasp and grasp at the possibilities of radical queer self-invention and communal care. This was 1992. I was 19: childhood meant suffocation, college was pointless shit. All around me, people were dying of AIDS and drug addiction and suicide, but finally I was finding other queer incest survivors, whores, vegans, runaways, anarchists, dropouts, drug addicts, sluts, activists and freaks trying not to disappear. Read more »
A few months before I graduated from college, a group of Distinguished Literary Figures came to my Fancy Eastern University and gave a special seminar on careers in literature. At least 150 of my classmates showed up in their $80 Frye boots and their shirts with the alligators on them and the attitudes they'd carefully honed during a life in which things pretty much went their way.Read more »
46TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL When I was about 21, living with my parents outside Boston, I started making zines. I sent my first one, Bitch Queen, to Maximum Rock 'n' Roll, and it wound up getting reviewed in MRR's Queer Zine Explosion issue. I hadn't even known there was a queer zine explosion happening, but my little P.O. box was soon stuffed with zines from zinesters wanting to trade issues, and with enough dollar bills that I could cross the street to the mall and get lunch. Read more »
46TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL Right now, at UC Berkeley, somebody is inventing a new organism. Across the Bay, at the San Francisco hacker space Noisebridge, somebody is programming a giant array of LEDs they bought from a cheerfully piratical Chinese website that sells the lights on long ribbons rolled tightly into bundles. On Mount Tam, long after the park closes on Saturday night, a group of amateur astronomers has set up telescopes and is surveying Messier objects. Read more »
46TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL Everyone sees the neon signs on street posts over the weekend, but only a few types of people actually stop at estate sales. Early on Friday come the re-sellers—professionals intent on securing cheap, high quality goods that can be resold at pricey consignment shops and on eBay. On Saturdays come the casual shoppers, drawn by the novelty of IKEA prices on antique store treasures. And on Sundays, the hard-core hagglers and bargain hunters arrive, ready to seize upon whatever's left for a few small bills.Read more »
46TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL Today it's mostly about the rents. People come to my tiny apartment, a shoebox I share with three cats and a genius, and they wonder two things at the same time—what the mad Romantic poet Holderlin called the condition of "pallaksch," an occurrence that presses your yes and no buttons simultaneously. I can see my visitors wondering, you're only an avant-garde writer at the bottom of the heap, how can you afford to live in San Francisco? And another part of them is answering their own questions by guessing, it must be rent control.Read more »
People marvel that I manage to live in San Francisco on what I make as a freelance writer. They wonder if I have a trust fund, secretly write speeches for CEOs, or run a phone-sex business on the side. They figure I must somehow make over six figures to live in a three-bedroom flat in the Haight with high ceilings, hardwood floors, a big kitchen, and a garden as big as a park.
No: I'm able to be a writer in San Francisco because of rent control.Read more »